Ed Kramer

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Posted by WPDR on July 29, 2009 at 06:26:37:

Former owner of Portage radio stations dies
By Jen McCoy, Daily Register

Ed Kramer loved baseball and watched his final game on Monday before he died.

"He watched a (Milwaukee) Brewer game at the end, and then he passed away very, very quietly," said his wife, Bev Kramer. He was 71 years old.

Kramer owned and operated WPDR and WDDC in Portage from 1974 until 2003. He also had success with his Kramer FunTours, which operated from 1975 to August 2008.

Kramer battled Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called "Lou Gehrig's Disease." Although Kramer's death was peaceful, Bev said, the last four months of his life were anything but serene.

"Basically, he could do nothing for himself. He couldn't even turn over," Bev said.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS patients eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease sometimes become completely paralyzed, according to the ALS Association.

Dave Magnum was a radio station associate of Kramer's. He also owns Magnum Communications.

"Governor Thompson used to do a question and answer session every year at the Wisconsin Broadcaster's Association winter meeting. Ed, without fail, always had a question, and, doggone it, he expected an answer!" Magnum wrote in an e-mail on Tuesday.

Suzi Yencheski worked as a reporter for WPDR from 1999 to 2002.

"He was a really savvy businessman. He truly felt that the radio station played an integral role in the community as a public service. He put his heart and soul into that place, and that's what he did with everything he was involved in. He didn't believe in a half-hearted approach to anything," Yencheski said.

Kramer's work ethic had a strong influence on many of his former employees, she said.

At this time last year the effects of the disease were noticeable, Bev said, but even with coordination and speech problems he still took a full load of tourists to West Virginia.

"There were so many people that wanted one last trip with Ed," Bev said. "He was a very smart man who had a lot of geography and history in his own mental computer. He knew a lot about this country and wanted to share that with people."

In the past few months, Kramer tried to communicate by writing notes, Bev said, but they were not always legible. However, on Monday night before he died, Kramer was clear about what he needed.

"He wrote us a very legible note for our caregiver, and it said, 'Socks off.' He wrote that at five (minutes) to 10, and we think he passed away at 10," Bev said.

Visitation for Kramer will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Friday at Portage United Methodist Church. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the church.

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